Willemse IRB ambassador
Johannesburg - Ashwin Willemse, a member of the Rugby World Cup 2007 winning Springbok squad, was named as the International Rugby Board's (IRB) Junior World Championship 2012 ambassador on Thursday.
The key age grade tournament will be played from June 4-22, in Cape Town.
Willemse was also a key member of Jake White's IRB Under-21 World Championship 2002 winning squad.
He is one of only a handful of players worldwide to have won both the IRB's premier age grade tournaments and the coveted Rugby World Cup.
IRB vice-chairman and president of SARU, Oregan Hoskins, praised Willemse as an excellent choice.
"Ashwin is a shining example of what you can achieve through hard work, dedication and commitment," Hoskins said.
"As a teenager and later as a young adult, he rose above his challenging circumstances to establish himself as one of the best junior rugby players in the country and later as a worthy Springbok."
"He is nowadays involved in many initiatives which are aimed at improving the lives of less fortunate children. It is great to see someone who has achieved so much in the Game giving back to the community. I cannot think of a better, more suitably qualified person for the role of JWC Ambassador."
Willemse said: "I remember so vividly the encouragement and support I received while playing for the SA Under-21 team in 2001 and 2002. The IRB Junior World Championship is a huge stepping stone for young players who aspire to be full internationals."
"There is no doubt that the experience and knowledge I gained while playing for the SA U21's contributed greatly to my development as an established provincial player and proud Springbok. I am delighted to be involved and I am looking forward to playing my part, to convince all Capetonians to get behind the tournament. The event will showcase the future stars of rugby, right here in their own backyard."
Willemse played 19 times for the Springboks after he made his debut in 2003 winning the SA Rugby Player of the Year and the Players' Player of the Year award having previously won the SA Rugby Young Player of the Year in 2002, the only player to achieve this remarkable triple accolade.